COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing provides healthcare officials with information vital to their response against the virus. By getting tested, you are not only providing information for local officials and healthcare professionals, you also learning about your infection status. Cases are not created through testing — testing serves to shine a light on where the virus is in our community. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider to see if a COVID-19 test is right for you. 

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SHOULD I GET TESTED?

The Louisiana Department of Health recommends COVID-19 testing for any patients who are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, contact your primary care physician for guidance. It is also recommended that you get tested if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. Close contact is defined by being within 6 feet of someone for longer than 15 minutes.

Types of COVID-19 Testing

Test Name What it is Results Pros Cons
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test
A PCR, or viral test: a sample of mucus is taken from the back of the throat or inside the nose with a cotton swab.
Shows if you were infected when the test was taken. Designed to be 100% accurate if sample collected correctly. The tests must be run on a machine in batches, so it can take days to get your results.
Rapid PCR Test
This test tells you if you are infected with COVID-19 at the time of your test; a sample of mucus is taken from the back of the throat or inside the nose with a cotton swab. 
Tells whether you currently have an infection. Get test result much sooner than regular PCR, often within an hour. The test is more expensive, less available, and may be less accurate than a traditional PCR test. 
Antibody Test
This is the blood test that detects the presence of COVID-19 antibodies — an immune response to a specific infection. 
An antibody test can tell you if you have had the virus. You can get your results the same day.  Only shows whether you were previously exposed. It DOES NOT tell you if you currently have the virus or if you are immune. 

what should I do after I get a covid test?

While awaiting results, you should attempt to self-quarantine in order to ensure that you do not expose others to the virus. 

if your result is positive

  • Follow the advice given to you by your testing center and local health professionals.
  • Stay home and avoid coming in contact with others, as you could get them sick. 
  • Monitor your health and let your doctor know if you have any worsening symptoms; these can include but are not limited to: 
    ○ Trouble breathing 
    ○ Chest pain/pressure 
    ○ Lightheadedness 
    ○ Slurred speech
  • Additional considerations can be found here.

if your result is negative

If you test negative for COVID-19 by a viral test, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. You might test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection, and may test positive later during your illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then.  
Reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19 by practicing good hygiene and physical distancing. This includes washing your hands, disinfecting surfaces, wearing a face covering, and standing 6 feet apart from those outside your household. 

contact tracing

Contact tracing is critical for quickly identifying where COVID-19 is prevalent and preventing the spread of the virus. Contact tracers help to do this by calling each individual who has received a positive test result. This is a confidential phone call.

 

Contact tracing attempts to determine who has come in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is recommended that individuals who have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-positive should isolate themselves in order to limit any further virus spread. 

 

Information shared during contact tracing calls will remain confidential and in line with HIPAA requirements. If deemed necessary that they contact individuals you have come in contact with, they will not release any of your information (including your name). Contact tracing calls will be done from the number 877-766-2130; enter it in your phone's contacts for easy identification. It is important to answer all of the contact tracer’s questions honestly in order to best understand the virus’s spread. 

 

More information about contact tracing can be found here